In the heart of downtown Lisbon, Pestana CR7 Lisboa is a brand-new 82-room hotel — the second property to open within the newly launched collaboration between soccer superstar Cristiano Ronaldo and Portuguese hospitality brand Pestana.
(It was inaugurated on Oct. 2 with a red-carpet soirée; the first hotel, in the Portuguese archipelago Madeira, opened over the summer.)
Previously a bank, the historic building was transformed by interior designer Jaime Morais, who swathed almost every inch of the hotel with references to Ronaldo’s illustrious sports legacy. To get a sense of the fantasy, even the staircase is outfitted with sensor-activated surround sound of soccer fans chanting.
In a bustling destination where it seems like a new hotel opens every week, Pestana CR7 Lisboa targets digitally savvy millennials who love Ronaldo, a national hero whose jersey, not coincidentally, sports the number 7.
The soccer-heavy decor, including in-room area rugs featuring an illustration of one of Ronaldo’s running patterns, is not for everyone, but the property offers amenities (welcome drinks, strong Wi-Fi, an a la carte breakfast menu) not often seen in Portuguese hotels.
“Digital comfort” is one of Pestana’s stated priorities. To that end, there is a super-fast internet connection that allows guests to watch Netflix with no interruption. And because Ronaldo is the spokesperson for Meo, a local telecommunications company, everyone gets a password to access its Wi-Fi service in the city wherever it’s available.
While most of the country relies on standard breakfast buffets, Pestana CR7 Lisboa offers a diverse selection at the insistence of general manager Miguel Plantier, who was once an F&B manager at The Standard High Line in New York. Searching for a taste of home? There’s one breakfast dish here that you won’t find anywhere in Portugal: a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich.
The hotel is dark. Most of the staff will refer to this design decision to use a lot of grays and blacks as masculine. But unless the curtains are wide open, in-room visibility is low.
The kitchen of the hotel’s restaurant, CR7 Corner Bar & Bistro, is under the supervision of Rui Martins, one of the nation’s best young chefs, who also oversees a Pestana restaurant in Porto. The menu orbits around elegantly modernized local classics for sharing, like veal croquettes paired with a delicious clam-mayo sauce. (A typical croquette comes with mustard.)
Another top dish, the tuna, is prepared two ways: in braised fillets, and also smoked in a salad and drizzled with sweet chili sauce. The bar program was developed by Liquid Consulting, a Lisbon-based mixology company that has been instrumental to the growth of the cocktail scene in the city. The creative libations might be a little light on the alcohol, but there are unexpected ingredients. For one, fragrant saffron sugar sweetens the Bitter Seduction, a mix of campari and ginger beer plus lemon and grapefruit juice.